Host of selection issues for Villa ahead of clash with promoted Canaries
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Aston Villa have plenty of selection issues ahead of their clash with Norwich City – the play-off bound side are limited in how many changes they can make though.
The EFL clarified selection criteria last year following a controversial game at the end of the 2016-17 campaign, which states that after the fourth Thursday in March teams must name at least 10 outfield players in their match-day squad of 18 who were in the squad for their previous game, or potentially face disciplinary measures.
It’s not clear what that would mean but it’s thought a fine would be most likely, in light of Huddersfield making 10 changes to their starting XI and then losing 2-0 at Birmingham in the penultimate game of 2016-17, contributing heavily to the Blues staying up and Blackburn going down.
EFL rules state that clubs must play “full strength” teams in all matches “unless some satisfactory reason is given” but Huddersfield escaped punishment.
There is plenty for Villa boss Dean Smith to contend with ahead of hosting already promoted Norwich on Sunday, with fifth place and play-off qualification already secured – and City needing just a point to seal the title on the final day of the season.
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Key midfielder John McGinn is on 14 yellow cards so needs to avoid activating a three-game ban with another booking, ahead of the amnesty at the end of the regular season – with Smith making it clear McGinn won’t play.
Ahmed El Ghazi is available though after his red card in the 1-1 draw at Leeds on Sunday was rescinded, with Leeds striker Patrick Bamford charged with deception of an official and facing a two-game ban, after making out he had been struck by the forward.
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Former Canaries keeper Jed Steer also injured his foot in the latter stages and is an injury doubt, having played an important role in Villa’s revival, while star players Jack Grealish and Jonathan Kodjia were substituted late on during the feisty encounter at Elland Road.
Top scorer Tammy Abraham has also missed the last two games with a shoulder injury, preventing him from adding to his 25 league goals and with Villa unbeaten in 11, they will want to maintain their momentum for the play-offs.